D&D 5E The actual adventuring day is 3-4 encounters per day, Wizards just last minute decided to make Easy Encounters from the playtest, the average.

My only question is, Why did Wizards purposely make their game feel worse with this last-minute change without public playtesting, Why?
Because what actually matters is number of combat rounds between rests, not total number of combats per day, and hard encounters are not in general twice as long as easy encounters.

I've crunched the numbers. Champion Fighters are--sorta-kinda-ish--"balanced" with at least other Fighter subclasses IF they get enough combat rounds in the day. It's actually really easy to calculate their bonus damage, because it's 5% (or 10% at high level) of the amount of bonus damage rolled due to a crit. We can then take something like Battle Master, where we know more-or-less exactly how much bonus damage it should be doing (its total Expertise Dice per rest), and figure out how many combat rounds are needed to make up the difference.

Combats in 5e are generally quite short. Around 3 rounds in general, sometimes up to 5 for particularly deadly fights, sometimes less. However, because most monsters are big bags of HP, even "easy" combats tend to fill up at least the minimum time because you just have to chew through so many hit points.

At 3rd level, the Champion gets (on average) 5% of their weapon damage as bonus damage per swing, since critical hits only multiply dice, not static damage; at 15th level, it's 10% of weapon damage. Since the game was balanced without factoring in magic items, I will be ignoring their effects (though I will also be ignoring the effect of crits on maneuvers, which is actually the optimal way to use maneuvers, but I'm trying to be favorable to the Champion here.) For easier math, I'll consider both to be using a greatsword (with Great Weapon Fighting style, naturally). Feats are optional, so I won't be including them, though their benefit is technically irrelevant here since Great Weapon Master gives static damage and is thus unaffected by crits. A GWF greatsword does 8.33 damage on a hit.

3rd: 5% of 8.33 = 0.4165. BM has 4d8 = 18 average damage per short rest, so the Champion needs 43.2 attacks to match. Pretty clearly inferior at this level.
5th (EA1): No numerical changes, but by making 2 attacks each attack, we cut it down to needing only ~22 combat rounds between rests, which is still way too high, but almost kinda-sorta possible.
7th: BM now has 5d8 = 22.5 average damage, so unfortunately things get worse for our Champion, who now needs (22.5/0.4165)/2 = 54/2 = 27 combat rounds between rests.
10th (EA2): Now things get interesting. BM dice are now 5d10 = 27.5, but that's now (27.5/0.4165)/3 = 22 combat rounds. Fascinating, I hadn't expected this to literally balance things back out to where they were at 5th level!
15th: Now things get really interesting, Champ finally gets a damage bonus! Instead of 0.4165, it's 0.833 damage per swing. BM also gets another die, but that's a smaller change. 6d10 = 33, (33/0.833)/3 = 13.2. Holy crap, we actually have a number of combat rounds that is VAGUELY PLAUSIBLE...if they're long enough. At 2-3 combats per short rest, you need those combats to be at least 4 rounds, and that's a long combat by 5e standards.
18th: Aaaand we fall back off the wagon again because now those dice are d12s. 6d12 = 39. (39/0.833)/3 = 15.6. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.
20th (EA3): Just for completeness. (39/0.833)/4 = 11.7. Again, we're gonna need some long combats (~6 rounds if only two combats per rest, ~4 rounds if three.)

Technically, I also left out the feature that grants more expertise dice when you roll initiative without any, but I willingly ignored that because it's not particularly great as a feature anyway.

So...as you can see, the Champion is supposed to be getting TONS of combat rounds if they're meant to keep up with even other Fighters, let alone more powerful classes like Paladin. That's why the game is built around having tons and tons of encounters. You need them in order to let the Champion catch up and in order to bleed off the enormous pile of daily resources given to full casters.
 

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Stalker0

Legend
Even in this thread one poster said that level 5 characters in their game take down CR 15 creatures.
This has been my experience. Deadly encounters past 5th level jsut aren't that deadly (for context my 5 level 6 players took out a CR 13 roc just last week in two rounds). So yeah I will use a lot of "deadly" encounters because I want my games to be 2-3 encounters in a day.... but then the party just blows through them (and lord help you if your only doing 1 encounter in a day). Or I am using monsters so high its starts to skew the narrative (isn't a little weird that this world is just filled with CR 10+ monsters all of a sudden?)
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I read it differently. That the names of the encounter difficulties were changed and it caused confusion but that the math and # of encounters was the same.
The math is the same, but changing the names subtly affects the number of encounters. The recommended XP budget is enough for about 6-8 encounters which the DMG calls “medium” and which the playtest packets call “easy.” But it’s only enough for about 3-4 encounters which the DMG calls “hard” and which the playtest packets call “average.” The DMG names implicitly suggest that most encounters should be “medium” with some “easy” and “hard” sprinkled in, and “deadly” avoided except in rare cases. The playtest packet names suggest that most encounters should be “average” with some “easy” and “tough” sprinkled in, and there’s no category above “tough.” Doing the latter would lead to a shorter adventuring day than doing the former, if the same XP budget is observed.

Which I think is completely true. People see 'deadly' and then when no one dies they say it's bad design. When all 'deadly' actually means is that there is at least a small chance of a character death.

They're poorly named but the function remains the same.
Right, but the subtle effect of changing the names was changing the expectation of the raw number of encounters in a typical adventuring day.
 

This has been my experience. Deadly encounters past 5th level jsut aren't that deadly (for context my 5 level 6 players took out a CR 13 roc just last week in two rounds). So yeah I will use a lot of "deadly" encounters because I want my games to be 2-3 encounters in a day.... but then the party just blows through them (and lord help you if your only doing 1 encounter in a day). Or I am using monsters so high its starts to skew the narrative (isn't a little weird that this world is just filled with CR 10+ monsters all of a sudden?)
Part of the reason that the party can "blow though them" is probably because you are having so few encounters a day: It allows them to go all out nova.
Making the encounters deadly won't make things harder for the party as much as adding more encounters, or at least making them multi-stage to prevent a single concentration spell dominating it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Because what actually matters is number of combat rounds between rests, not total number of combats per day, and hard encounters are not in general twice as long as easy encounters.

I've crunched the numbers. Champion Fighters are--sorta-kinda-ish--"balanced" with at least other Fighter subclasses IF they get enough combat rounds in the day. It's actually really easy to calculate their bonus damage, because it's 5% (or 10% at high level) of the amount of bonus damage rolled due to a crit. We can then take something like Battle Master, where we know more-or-less exactly how much bonus damage it should be doing (its total Expertise Dice per rest), and figure out how many combat rounds are needed to make up the difference.

Combats in 5e are generally quite short. Around 3 rounds in general, sometimes up to 5 for particularly deadly fights, sometimes less. However, because most monsters are big bags of HP, even "easy" combats tend to fill up at least the minimum time because you just have to chew through so many hit points.

At 3rd level, the Champion gets (on average) 5% of their weapon damage as bonus damage per swing, since critical hits only multiply dice, not static damage; at 15th level, it's 10% of weapon damage. Since the game was balanced without factoring in magic items, I will be ignoring their effects (though I will also be ignoring the effect of crits on maneuvers, which is actually the optimal way to use maneuvers, but I'm trying to be favorable to the Champion here.) For easier math, I'll consider both to be using a greatsword (with Great Weapon Fighting style, naturally). Feats are optional, so I won't be including them, though their benefit is technically irrelevant here since Great Weapon Master gives static damage and is thus unaffected by crits. A GWF greatsword does 8.33 damage on a hit.

3rd: 5% of 8.33 = 0.4165. BM has 4d8 = 18 average damage per short rest, so the Champion needs 43.2 attacks to match. Pretty clearly inferior at this level.
5th (EA1): No numerical changes, but by making 2 attacks each attack, we cut it down to needing only ~22 combat rounds between rests, which is still way too high, but almost kinda-sorta possible.
7th: BM now has 5d8 = 22.5 average damage, so unfortunately things get worse for our Champion, who now needs (22.5/0.4165)/2 = 54/2 = 27 combat rounds between rests.
10th (EA2): Now things get interesting. BM dice are now 5d10 = 27.5, but that's now (27.5/0.4165)/3 = 22 combat rounds. Fascinating, I hadn't expected this to literally balance things back out to where they were at 5th level!
15th: Now things get really interesting, Champ finally gets a damage bonus! Instead of 0.4165, it's 0.833 damage per swing. BM also gets another die, but that's a smaller change. 6d10 = 33, (33/0.833)/3 = 13.2. Holy crap, we actually have a number of combat rounds that is VAGUELY PLAUSIBLE...if they're long enough. At 2-3 combats per short rest, you need those combats to be at least 4 rounds, and that's a long combat by 5e standards.
18th: Aaaand we fall back off the wagon again because now those dice are d12s. 6d12 = 39. (39/0.833)/3 = 15.6. Ah well, it was good while it lasted.
20th (EA3): Just for completeness. (39/0.833)/4 = 11.7. Again, we're gonna need some long combats (~6 rounds if only two combats per rest, ~4 rounds if three.)

Technically, I also left out the feature that grants more expertise dice when you roll initiative without any, but I willingly ignored that because it's not particularly great as a feature anyway.

So...as you can see, the Champion is supposed to be getting TONS of combat rounds if they're meant to keep up with even other Fighters, let alone more powerful classes like Paladin. That's why the game is built around having tons and tons of encounters. You need them in order to let the Champion catch up and in order to bleed off the enormous pile of daily resources given to full casters.
This matches my actual experience of playing a Champion. Played this way, it's fantastic fun.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
This has been my experience. Deadly encounters past 5th level jsut aren't that deadly (for context my 5 level 6 players took out a CR 13 roc just last week in two rounds). So yeah I will use a lot of "deadly" encounters because I want my games to be 2-3 encounters in a day.... but then the party just blows through them (and lord help you if your only doing 1 encounter in a day). Or I am using monsters so high its starts to skew the narrative (isn't a little weird that this world is just filled with CR 10+ monsters all of a sudden?)
Yeah, with 2-3 encounters a day, 5 PCs will blow through just about anything that moves.
 


I mean, not really, it moves pretty quickly. Makes for a fun balance.
Again just to be clear: this means that, if you're getting the expected 2-3 short rests per long rest, that your characters experience an absolute minimum of 60-80 combat rounds a day (or whatever period your long rests recharge at.)

Is this correct? Keep in mind when I say "per rest" I mean "per rest of any kind, long or short."
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Again just to be clear: this means that, if you're getting the expected 2-3 short rests per long rest, that your characters experience an absolute minimum of 60-80 combat rounds a day (or whatever period your long rests recharge at.)

Is this correct? Keep in mind when I say "per rest" I mean "per rest of any kind, long or short."
Ah, yeah, that ain't right. I think I misread which rest you meant. A 5-8 Encounter day should work out to 10-24 rounds of combat, with two short rests.

My experience is that the Champion is crazy effective, an unstoppable killing machine that never slows down. Playing a full Adventure Day brings that out.
 

Ah, yeah, that ain't right. I think I misread which rest you meant. A 5-8 Encounter day should work out to 10-24 rounds of combat, with two short rests.

My experience is that the Champion is crazy effective, an unstoppable killing machine that never slows down. Playing a full Adventure Day brings that out.
Curious. You only get one extra crit out of every 20 swings (or two, at high levels). On average, that just...doesn't add much, as noted. That's really the full extent of your damage bonuses, since there are no interactions between fighting styles.
 

So based on this and anyone’s experience:

What rubric would you use for better than average out of the box experience?

My DM has generally simply made adjustments up and we rise to the challenge. I have often gone with harder than average.

Does anyone have a nice rule they find useful as a benchmark? It could be what was originally intended here or otherwise—-just want to get closer with out of the gate baseline
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Curious. You only get one extra crit out of every 20 swings (or two, at high levels). On average, that just...doesn't add much, as noted. That's really the full extent of your damage bonuses, since there are no interactions between fighting styles.
You may be overestimating the utility of what other Subclasses get. Mearls went into the math of this when he covrered the Fighter in the Happy Fun Hour: going from 5% Crit to 10% crit is the baseline power that the math for other Subclasses are based around.
 

So based on this and anyone’s experience:

What rubric would you use for better than average out of the box experience?

My DM has generally simply made adjustments up and we rise to the challenge. I have often gone with harder than average.

Does anyone have a nice rule they find useful as a benchmark? It could be what was originally intended here or otherwise—-just want to get closer with out of the gate baseline
First thing to do is ask the group how much they want to be challenged. Not everyone will articulate it well, but many, many players really don't want to be challenged by combats. They want to look cool, advance the plot, solve puzzles (ie how can we get through this creature's unique defenses?) or otherwise use combat as a way to do one of the many other things DD can do. DnD can provide many kinds of fun, game-challenge is one and not the most popular.*

If they want challenge from the tactical and strategic aspects of combat - structure the game so that there are almost always multiple fights per day. For best results, 3-4 hard fights per day seems to work well. And be super stingy with magic items.

*Okay, the popularity thing is mostly based on anecdotes not statistics. But if you recall the article that was going around last year abut the "cultures of gaming" only one (classic) would rely on by-the-book combat challenges, and then only sort of. The other five used combat as a way to add spice to the real core fun being sought.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
So based on this and anyone’s experience:

What rubric would you use for better than average out of the box experience?

My DM has generally simply made adjustments up and we rise to the challenge. I have often gone with harder than average.

Does anyone have a nice rule they find useful as a benchmark? It could be what was originally intended here or otherwise—-just want to get closer with out of the gate baseline
For a small group you can bump the monster CRs & it works well enough. For a larger group 5e itself resists efforts to retune things because of death saves weak healing & safe trivialized recovery from rests that are almost certain to catapult the party back with a full assortment of blue turtle shells to each pc.
 

TL;DR. The game was originally designed around "Hard" Encounters being the average, but last-minute wizards added a new, easier difficulty, and downshifted the game's average encounters to the "Easy" Encounters without changing the math. So now the game feels too easy.
Wow that explains an awful lot.

Also I note we'd unconsciously been adjusting for it by indeed designing around Hard/Deadly encounter as the base in both my and my bro's campaigns.

As for "why", I think it was because a lower "Easy" allowed them to have a difficulty for the high numbers of "pointless" encounters a lot of old-skool 1E/2E adventures have, which would fit the "Apology Edition" paradigm. Otherwise those would be outside normal encounter design.
 

There's no such thing as a standardized, suggested, or normalized adventuring day in 5e just like there wasn't any in the Next play testing. The encounter count in both were just a guideline for those looking to use exp budgets as a framework. The whole idea of the game being balanced around encounter count and difficulty is a holdover effect from other editions.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
(* Seriously, the characters have managed to beat encounters that they should have no business even being near at if we believe the CR. But CR is a complete lie. A party of four level five PCs managed to take down an encounter that was around CR 15 or so!)
So, 4 level 5 PCs have a total level of 20.

A CR 15 monster should be beatable by a party with a total level of 20, especially if the PCs are heavy on daily abilities, optimized and are doing a single-encounter day. Especially if the PCs get the drop on the monster. (If the monster gets the drop on the PCs and is played intelligently, I'd expect deaths staring on round 2).

Is this what people mean when they say "CR doesn't work"? CR in 5e is (roughly) linear (note: post-20 CR is scaled differently, a CR 30 actually about CR 40-50). A CR 15 monster is only (roughly) 1.5x as deadly as a CR 10 monster. By the time that PCs hit T2, they can (with luck, optimization and tactics) face CR up to 20.

Doubling number of foes is about as nasty as doubling CR.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Because what actually matters is number of combat rounds between rests, not total number of combats per day, and hard encounters are not in general twice as long as easy encounters.
I'm very much in agreement with what you wrote, but with a caveat.

Because duration (rage, spell, feature) often would last longer than one encounter, you get extra duty from them when you have fewer, longer encounters. So it's generally total number of rounds, but if you don't have break points in there that split up durations, then classes with durations still get more use out of them (for the same resource cost in both uses and triggering action) so you need to adjust for those as well.

Easy example: 15 rounds of combat split in 3 encounters or 5 encounters, with a barbarian with 3 rages a day. In one 100% of the rounds are with rage, in the second only 60% of the encounters.

But yeah, in general it's total rounds.
 

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